By Andrea Grymes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A series of special outdoor performances will take place this weekend in Manhattan. It’s all for a good cause — to raise money for struggling professional dancers in the Big Apple.

For professional dancer Skylar Brandt, getting back to rehearsing for a live audience show could not come soon enough.

“It’s extremely thrilling to think that I’ll be on stage again in front of people who are watching me in real time,” Brandt told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes on Thursday.

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Brandt is a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre, but the coronavirus pandemic has shut down regular performances for the past year.

Like many of her peers across the dance world, she has had to make ends meet mostly by teaching.

“I know a lot of my friends have had to give up their apartments in New York City. There’s no way for them to even stay here. So, it has been incredibly difficult,” Brandt said.

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It’s a plight dance activists and producers Melissa Gerstein and Kimberly Giannelli are trying to help alleviate. They just started “We Heart Dance NYC” to celebrate the dance community and raise money for those struggling.

“We just thought, how can we safely give them an opportunity to go back on stage and have live dance happening in the city, have live audiences come and enjoy art again, and do some good while we’re at it,” Giannelli said.

Rehearsals have been held for the organization’s fundraiser on Sunday — a series of outdoor dance performances at the Empire Hotel rooftop near Lincoln Center.

“We are going to see ABT, New York City Ballet. We’re gonna see Broadway. We’re gonna see tap. Tango. All disciplines of dance come together,” Gerstein said.

The money raised will not only go towards paying the participating dancers, but also towards a special fund for those who need financial assistance.

“I just simply can’t wait!” Brandt said.

COVID-19 may have taken away the big stages for now, but it can’t take away the passion from these dedicated performers.

The rain date is April 18 and tickets start at $50.

Andrea Grymes